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Cataracts: What you Need to Know

Wednesday, 10 Nov 2010 03:24 PM

What is a Cataract?
A cataract is characterized by the clouding of the lens in the eye that obscures the vision. The incidence of cataract increases with age and is not contagious.
Causes of Cataracts
The lens in the eye is made of mostly water and protein. The protein is arranged in such a way that it keeps the lens clear and lets light pass through it. But as we age, some of the proteins may clump together and start to cloud a small area of the lens. The cataract may get bigger with time and cover more area of the lens, making it difficult for people to see.
Other factors that may cause cataracts include:
  • Certain diseases, such as diabetes
  • Smoking and alcohol
  • Excess exposure to sunlight
Symptoms of Cataracts include:
  • Inability to see colors properly
  • Seeing a halo near headlights, lamps, or sunlight
  • Not being able to see at night
  • Double vision or multiple images (This symptom may subside with the increased size of the cataract.)
  • The need to change eyeglasses or contact lenses often.
Cataracts may be improved with new eyeglasses, brighter lighting, anti-glare sunglasses, or magnifying lenses. Cataract eye surgery is the only option in the case of failure of these measures.  In surgery, the cloudy lens is removed and an artificial lens is put in its place.
In surgery, a clear plastic intraocular lens called an IOL is used as a substitute for the natural lens. This new lens does not require maintenance. Gradually, it becomes a part of the organ. However, IOL does not suit some people. For these people, a soft contact lens, or high magnification glasses, may be suggested. In rare cases, cataract surgery could lead to complications including a loss of vision, bleeding, double vision, or infection.

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